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Book Review: Drupal 7

Book Title : Drupal 7
Website :
Author : David Mercer
Publisher : Packt Publishing
Reviewer : Timi Ogunjobi , Author Drupal 6 Site Blueprints

Now that Drupal 7 has been officially released for use , it will certainly be a good idea for every Drupal users to learn how it functions. For experienced users this may mostly be just about learning where things have been newly placed; but for the new user it will be a new learning experience altogether; plugging into a new paradigm - an undertaking which can be made easier with this very useful book . Drupal 7 , written by David Mercer as an update of his previous books. Although the title of the book appears to say it all about the content, let’s take a brief trip through the contents.

If you are an old hand with Drupal you may want to give Chapter 1 a miss. This chapter introduces you to the world of Drupal and then deals with how to get everything you need up and running. After looking over some of the more common installation problems, the chapter presents a brief tour of Drupal in order to give you an idea of what to expect in the coming chapters.

. Drupal is a modular system. Its functionality is held in modules that integrate into the main workflow at various points, altering the way other parts operate or even adding new features entirely. Adding a new module is one thing, but presenting its functionality is also important and this requires us to look at menus and blocks as an integral part of our discussion on functionality. Chapter 2 deals with the basic functionality and should assist you to add important functionality to the newly created site The focus of this chapter is on modules and blocks and how to add and enable them, and how to obtain modules that are not a part of the core distribution.

Chapter 3 looks at the most general settings that all Drupal administrators need to contend with. Everything from specifying your site's name and dealing with other topics such as actions and triggers , shortcuts , file system , performance , maintenance , logging and errors , clean urls ,rss publishing , reports are discussed here. It is likely that the readers will need to revisit this chapter every now and then.

Users and Access Control are discussed in Chapter 4 , which shows the best ways to implement a sound access control policy. Drupal has a sophisticated role-based access control system, which is fundamentally important for handling users properly. This chapter will give you the information you need to implement whatever access controls your site requires and advice on how to take a holistic approach to implementing an access control policy will ensure that you don't end up with any nasty surprises later on.

Content needs to be easy to find, which in turn means that it needs to be well organized. Content should be well presented and easy to interact with—in other words, simple to use. Chapter 5 teaches you how to work with content, what content types are available, administering content, and even a discourse on some of the more common content-related modules. The chapter should serve as a basis for moving to more advanced content-related matters that follow in the next chapter, and also provide a good grounding in the basics of content management.

One of the most important aspects to managing content is the manner in which it is best organized for expedient retrieval—and for this, the knowledge of such functionality as fields , taxonomy and formatting will prove useful. Taxonomy by the way, is what makes Drupal's classification system so powerful. Chapter 6, will give you the edge when it comes to creating engaging, dynamic content. Here you learn about how to categorize information, how to create entirely new content types and how to post complex pages .

Earlier incarnations of Drupal didn't have very good native image and media support. Much of this gap was plugged by the use of contributed modules which created a new problem of a wide range of modules being produced all of which made it hard- for new users to know which module was the right one for them. Chapter 7 which is about how to use Drupal’s multimedia features, discusses the trend towards rich, visually appealing websites. This chapter will give you a rounded view of multimedia in Drupal by looking topics like the use of images ,files, media, wysiwyg , in or as content.

Views are often considered one of the most important tools of developing with Drupal. While Drupal already comes with a powerful set of tools for creating and managing content, it's not nearly flexible enough on its own to cater to everyone's content display requirements. It needs Views. By mastering Views, Drupal developers can manipulate and organize their content in a way that no other platform can. Chapter 8, not only shows how to create new basic and advanced Views, but also how to theme and manipulate them. . This chapter will give the reader a firm understanding of what Views is, how it works and how to use it properly with topics such as creating a basic view, creating an advanced view ,theming views , importing and exporting views

Okay, your site, may at the moment be fully functional and doesn't look too bad —it's a bit plain, but it will get the job done. You may be feeling the urge to design, plan, and implement a more exciting visual environment in which your website's users will be immersed. With a bit of effort, creating something entirely new can be fun and rewarding, and Drupal comes with a host of features to make it easier. Chapter 9 which is about theming gives a run down of how attractive, functional interfaces can be created in Drupal through the use of themes. As well as discussing briefly some of the considerations that must be taken into account when planning your website, it shows how to make important modifications to your chosen theme, through the use of sub-themes.

Chapter 10, which is about Drupal’s advanced features adds the icing on the cake by looking at a host of more advanced topics. From better and more complex theming issues, to creating a real world application by integrating several different features and technologies, this chapter gives readers their first look at how Drupal makes building genuinely world-class websites possible. Specifically topics such as Panels and additional theming are discussed here. You will also have the opportunity to try your hand at integrating third-party code into Drupal in order to provide some cool functionality that is not currently available.

By the time you arrive at Chapter 11, the majority of the development for your new site may have been completed. You should also feel confident that, from a development perspective, you can respond to whatever demands the site throws at you and operate Drupal with proficiency – although the site still has to go live. It is assumed that all major work that you have done so far has been on a development website. Chapter 11 which is about Deployment and Management takes a pragmatic look at the type of skills you need in order to successfully run and maintain a live Drupal site. Whether it's considering what type of hosting service to use, or how to enhance a site's SEO, everything you need to do throughout the course of operating a live website is covered. It also discusses the all-important topic of deployment. This chapter presents a sound process for taking the finished product and making it available for public consumption on a live server.

jQuery comes as part of Drupal, and various Drupal modules rely heavily on it, and it does make sense for site administrators to cash in on its ready- and waiting- functionality The Appendix of this book looks at the JavaScript features that come as standard with Drupal using the jQuery package. The objective appears to be to give the reader a basic overview of how jQuery can be leveraged to create new and interesting effects to enhance site content.

Drupal 7 is an exciting product, quite easier to use than the predecessors. For functionality too , it beats any other available content management system hands down. If you are looking to become a good Drupal developer, you need this book.